Though it has been wreaking havoc for decades, in recent years, heroin has come to forefront as a major threat to society. The White House (which attributed 28,648 deaths to dope and other opioids in 2014) has declared the heroin a problem an epidemic, prompting President Obama to propose $1.1 billion in funding to fight addiction to heroin and other prescription drugs. In another unprecedented societal move, the heroin antidote Narcan will be sold over the counter at pharmacies across the nation.
Narcan, also known by its generic name naloxone, is a nasal spray used to reverse the effects of opioids in the event of overdose. Opioids include not just heroin but also methadone and widely used and highly addictive prescription painkillers like oxycodone, codeine, fentanyl and morphine.
National chain CVS has announced that Narcan will be stocked in stores in 20 states, in addition to the stores it’s already available in in 15 other states. It is not being sold as a prescription drug, and will be displayed on shelves. Seekers can purchase it in two-dose packages, costing $40-$50. Narcan is also being sold at Walgreens and Duane Reed locations. Walgreens announced that, starting on February 1, the drug could be purchased in its pharmacies without a prescription.
While this is surely a safety measure on the surface, it could give smack heads an excuse to go harder, knowing that the overdose cure is available whenever they need it. It could also be read as a sort of “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em,” situation. Are the powers-that-be accepting defeat? Has it become too difficult to monitor and regulate the distribution of heroin and prescription pills? Is the government trying to find a way to profit off of the epidemic? Only time will tell.